Are you just stumbling upon First Bites and thinking, so what is this all about? In a nutshell we want to make your family eating experience as pleasant as it possibly can be. Not always an easy thing when you are eating out with babies and toddlers...and maybe some choice adult family members. Here is a quick overview of how we came up with the rating system. It is VERY scientific.....
Once upon a time I was a die-hard Yelper...
and would not even think about eating somewhere until I had properly vetted Yelp. This meant combing through the reviews and then engaging in deep analysis/arguments/discussions on whether or not I thought the reviewers were just plain whack or if they were the competition trying to knock this restaurant off a pedestal. Then there would be a group vote and God forbid someone suggested a place I had not heard of, it was back to the initial Yelp vetting process. Yelp was my everything and I took it very seriously.
And then once I had a kid, I just didn't go out to eat as frequently (SAD) and now I just look for a different type of review when I eat out. And it pretty much boils down to how much of a relative pain in the ass will my kid be in contrast to all the other diners. If it is high, I usually steer clear. It got me thinking that there really isn't a review site for parents. So Furst Bites is setting out to be the Zagat for families. For our first review, I visited one of our neighborhood faves, Rucola. I've done some extensive research (read: ask my friends) what they look for when deciding to take their kids out to eat. And here is a breakdown of what matters most:
How disruptive will my kids be?
Put another way, how many laser-beam stares of death will my family receive from the other diners when we walk through the door? If it is high (Pretty much ANY establishment below 14th street and west of 9th avenue in Manhattan) then walk away....slowly.
Does the restaurant cater to kids in any way?
Is there a kid menu? Does the place have highchairs? Booster seats? Crayons? Plastic cups? A changing station? Do kids eat free? A wild mural on the wall to distract? Interestingly enough, the kid menu riles up many of my mom friends. They are fed up with the "kid" options of nuggets, fries, pizza and any other name-your-processed carb. They want real/adult food for their kids....just in smaller portions.
Can I bring a stroller into the restaurant?
Parents of wee-ones know this question can sometimes make or break the decision to dine out. Some places will let you take the stroller right up to the table...and others either don't have the space or don't want to start that precedent (which I can respect!)
How early does the restaurant start serving dinner?
Add this to the list of depressing questions you might not ever have envisioned yourself asking when you were 25 and sitting down to eat your dinner at 10:30PM...because that's when you made the reservation. Kids rise early and they go to bed early. So you know what that also means...they eat dinner early. Eating at 5PM is not just for senior citizens...
Are their food options for allergic kids?
No, you are no imagining this...kids really do have more food allergies these days than they did in years past. For a parent who has to navigate a peanut allergy or a gluten-free existence, eating out can be really stressful.
So there you have it. The Furst Bites VERY OFFICIAL review guide. I will be using these points as a guideline when I eat out with my family and rate place on a scale of 1-5 bites for "family friendliness", with five bites being equivalent to a massive playdate that just happens to be at a restaurant...and one bite being a sign to "leave your kid at home." I'll then post an accompanying video from time-to-time to give you an idea of what the place was really like.
Happy Eating Parents!